Senior citizen mental health care is just as important as physical health care after recovering from any illness, especially COVID-19. It can be quite taxing on the mind to constantly see people dying or losing their loved ones due to this deadly pandemic. Senior citizens face enough physical health issues and hence, should not bear the added burden of mental distress during these tough times.
It is the duty of those who can help to lend a helping hand and offer mental and physical health care resources to an elderly person recovering from COVID-19. Since senior citizens are more susceptible to contracting the virus and are at a higher risk of losing the battle, it is important to stay vigilant and specially considerate to them.
It is important for older people to be provided with designated nursing and attending services to cater to their needs and requirements. Not every caregiver is as patient or understanding to be able to take care of elders that have recovered from COVID-19. In special cases where the recovered elders are facing cognitive decline or dementia, isolation with the patient is especially challenging because they tend to be extremely anxious, restless and confused. In these times it is important to remain considerate and patient. We should understand their condition as well. What they are going through mentally is no easier than guiding and helping them. Repeat the instructions to them if necessary. It is helpful to show them information through drawings or pictures. The caretakers should also help the recovered elders do some light mind exercises as this can help release some Endorphins and promote better mental health. In addition to this, caretakers should help them get a nutritious and well-balanced diet. All of these factors put together aid in a speedy and successful recovery. If it is possible, visits from family members or close friends are recommended, granted that they have tested negative for COVID-19 and have not been exposed to the virus for at least 14 days prior to the visit. The presence of a family member or a friend can do wonders for the mental and physical well-being of elders, especially during the recovery stage.
Wear masks and encourage social distancing
Caregivers should wear masks to avoid transmitting anything to the recovered patients as they are already in a weak physiological state. To ensure a successful recovery process, it is important not to transmit anything to the elders as they may have comorbidities that would get aggravated by any additional foreign bodies. When encouraging visits from family they must maintain social distance from the elder and from one another as well as to wear a good mask at all times. In times like these, it is better to be safe than sorry as what is at stake is the life of a dear one.
Use technology to stay connected
If visits by family members and friends are not possible, technology can bridge the gap between the two. The caretaker can set up meetings on online video conferencing platforms with loved ones so that they can keep in touch with the recovered elder. The caretaker can also teach them how to message if they do not know how to use text messaging services. If they do know how to message and call, then it becomes easier for them to reach out and talk to people who could not visit them.
Remind them of good times
When it comes to the recovery process, it is helpful to remember and recall happy memories and good times. During this stage of recovery, it is important to avoid stress causers as much as possible. Hence, it is important for caretakers to constantly show them images of good memories that had been shared by others as a way to help them remember. They should also talk about good experiences with the elder so that they can reminisce about more positive and happier times. All these methods can help improve mental health and lift their spirits. Remembering good times act as instant mood-uplifters and keeps senior citizens mentally active which is crucial during the recovery process.
Share simple facts
With access to technology and news sites, it is easy for recovered eldered to hear about false news or exaggerated facts that would unnecessarily cause them distress. Therefore, it is important for those around them like their caretakers or visiting members to share simple yet factual information. It can be about current events and happenings in order to keep them up to date with important information. This helps them to be more knowledgeable about events and will avoid them from believing anything and everything that is said on social media platforms. This knowledge will help them keep calm mentally and avoid worrying as it would only be detrimental to their health and recovery process.
Encourage them to do their hobbies
Be it singing, writing, painting, sculpting or any other activity, hobbies help to increase and restore self-confidence and also positively impact our mental and physical health. Hobbies are a representation of one’s strengths and job. However, during the recovery process, it is helpful for them to indulge in what they like as it promotes physical and mental wellness. This is the positivity they require during tough times like COVID-19.
Mental health is an old topic that has only been brought up and spoken about quite recently. It is as important as physical health as most mental health issues go undiagnosed and unrecognised. This causes a considerable amount of damage to a person’s health in the long run and when we talk about elders and senior citizens, their mental health is often written off due to their age. However, it is just as important to take care of their mental health as much as it is to take care of their physical health as half the battle is in the mind and without a strong mind, they are bound to give up or lose.